ABOUT bao buddy
the buddy behind "bao buddy"
Nice to meet you, bao-tiful — My name is Lea, your new buddy and the one behind "bao buddy." I'm a 25-year-old proud Asian American living in New York City. I highlight the best NYC Asian eats and Asian-owned businesses to 35K+ internet folks around the globe.
If you see a Chinese girl skipping along the streets in bright patterns, nom’ing away at AYCE hot pot, or shopping Asian-owned, then you’ve probably found me.
And I wouldn’t exist on this planet if it weren’t for Asian restaurants — my ancestors ran a Chinese restaurant located in Indiana (random I know) in the ‘80s, which allowed my mom to immigrate to America. A number of magical things happened after, and bam, I was born.
the birth of "bao buddy"
During the 2020 pandemic, amongst the dumpster fire of chaos that the world went through, Asian restaurants suffered a gut punch due to the racism and xenophobia surrounding COVID-19.
While there was a 22% decline in all small business-owner activity nationwide from February to April, Asian American business-owner activity dropped by 26%, according to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
And when I moved back to NYC in 2022, I saw that the struggle continued for many Asian-owned businesses. And starting “bao buddy” was the least I could do to support the restaurant industry while also creating a means for more people to learn about my community through the most enjoyed topic: food.
It's often said that food is the universal language of love, but to me, it's also a universal language for representation. (or in this case, representASIAN heh)
Asian food goes beyond side bowls of rice, rubbing chopsticks against one another to avoid splinters, and a harmony of spices (though we're here for all of that) — it’s a gateway for people to learn more about our community, history, and culture.
So join me at the dinner party, your taste buds will be satisfied and you will feel seen. Just as our Asian American community deserves.